PLANS to open a rehabilitation centre for ex-soldiers in a Malvern village have sparked fears from residents there will not be enough security to manage the ‘trained killers’.
Representatives from Heritage Care and Rooftop Housing Group unveiled their proposal to a packed village hall in West Malvern on Monday (May 12) following months of speculation.
During the meeting they revealed work to transform Adelaide House into a centre to support ex-services personnel suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) had already begun.
The plans will see the former care home on Park Road refurbished with en-suite bedrooms replacing the ‘box-style’ rooms. The centre will provide residency for between 10 and 12 people at any one time and the developers hope to build another two-storey building with offices, a gymnasium and a café on the site in 2016.
Villagers expressed concerns over plans for just three permanent members of staff at the centre, despite reassurances other specialists would be brought in at different times depending on the needs of individual clients.
One resident said: “You are talking about 10 people smack in the middle of West Malvern which is a residential area. Three members of staff for 10 sick people who are trained to kill is ridiculous.”
Another villager added: “All of us have real sympathy for this project, we are a very caring and welcoming community but we are concerned.
“This is a very quiet residential part of Worcestershire and this is a psychiatric facility.”
But David Hannon, development director for Rooftop, said the centre was not for people with the most ‘acute’ need, and said they aimed to help those suffering from PTSD at an earlier stage to prevent severe cases.
“You are painting a picture of a group of people at the opposite end of society who need the lock and key. That’s not case,” he said.
“We are talking about ordinary human beings who need help.”
“These people are heroes for a day and then written off and we don’t want that.
“Often people who go into the forces straight from school and have had no time to establish a home life. They have experienced awful things and we need to help them get back into normal life.”
Further concerns were raised on the night about the amount of traffic which the centre would bring because of a lack of parking in West Malvern.
Mr Hannon vowed a traffic survey would be carried out and made available to residents along with a method statement outlining the development works by the end of June.
He also responded to criticism residents had not been consulted before now and said board members at Rooftop only approved the proposal in March.
One member of the audience summed up the frustration and said: “There is no hostility here just concern. We want to help because it is right to help but from now on it’s very important the communication is much better.”